Triple-digit highs are expected through much of next week in Merced and the San Joaquin Valley, according to forecasters.
Highs are expected to surpass 100 degrees Saturday and remain high through at least Thursday, according to Dan Harty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.
The hottest days — Monday and Sunday — are forecast to climb close to 110, he said. “This is unusual, potentially record-breaking heat,” he said.
Much of the central San Joaquin Valley faces possible record-breaking numbers, Harty said, adding Merced County’s temperatures are typically a few degrees cooler than places like Fresno and Bakersfield.
This is unusual, potentially record-breaking heat.
Dan Harty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service
The city of Merced announced Friday that staff will open up cooling centers from Sunday through Wednesday to help those who need respite from the heat. The cooling zone is open those days from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Sam Pipes Room of City Hall, 678 W. 18th St. There will be water, snacks and other supplies available in the room.
The Bus offers free rides to the cooling zone, though service ends at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, officials said.
“This is a good time to check on your neighbors to make sure they are OK, especially seniors and our at-risk populations,” said Stephanie Dietz, assistant city manager. “Some people have a harder time adapting to the hot weather, and they may require an extra hand.”
Along with avoiding activity during the hottest part of the day, Harty said, forecasters recommend that residents check on elderly neighbors. Pets should be brought inside, or given otherwise cool shelter and ample water.
In areas with poor air quality, people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory diseases should minimize outdoor activities, health officials say.
Extreme heat poses a substantial health risk, especially in vulnerable populations such as young children, elderly people, those with chronic diseases, pregnant women, people with disabilities and those who are socially isolated.
Heat-related illnesses include cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death. Warning signs of heat-related illnesses vary, but may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, paleness, tiredness or dizziness.
For those staying cool under a vent, Pacific, Gas and Electric recommends that air conditioner users follow some tips to conserve energy and save money.
Turn off televisions, lights and fans in empty rooms, and make sure doors and windows are closed while the air conditioner is running.
Turning the air conditioner setting down by one degree when leaving the house can save $85 a year, according to Denny Boyles, a spokesman for PG&E. Another $65 a year can be saved by turning the air conditioner off if the home is empty for several days.
High temperatures also continue to melt the Sierra snowpack quickly, Harty noted. Snow at 9,000 feet in elevation or higher is melting and flowing down through Valley rivers, including the Merced River.
Officials have said there is a zero-tolerance policy for people trying to swim in the dangerously high Merced River. A Merced County man has been missing since Wednesday after he jumped into the Merced River to save his 3-year-old daughter. He rescued the girl, but was swept away by the current.
AT A GLANCE
Tips for sun and heat protection
- Those without air conditioning should go to a cooling center, library or other public place, such as a shopping mall, to cool off for a few hours each day.
- Avoid physical exertion outdoors during the hottest parts of the day. Reduce exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when ultraviolet rays are strongest, and keep physical activities to a minimum during that time. When working outside, drink plenty of water or juice even if you are not thirsty, and take rest breaks in the shade.
- Check on elderly people who live alone every 24 hours; many may be on medications which increase likelihood of dehydration.
- To prevent overheating, use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths. Get medical attention if you experience a rapid, strong pulse, feel delirious, or have a body temperature above 102 degrees.
- Never leave infants, children or frail elderly unattended in a parked car – it can take as little as 10 minutes for the temperature inside a car to rise to levels that can kill.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover the face and neck, and wear loose-fitting clothing to keep cool and to protect your skin from the sun and mosquitoes.
- Wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. Chronic exposure to the sun can cause cataracts, which left untreated can lead to blindness.
- Liberally apply sunscreen 15 minutes before venturing outdoors and reapply at least every two hours. Sunscreen may reduce the risk of skin cancer, the No.1 cancer affecting Californians. Sunscreen may also prevent premature aging.
Source: California Department of Public Health